Limitations of Construction Liability Insurance

When hiring a construction crew to renovate homes, it is critical to have the proper insurance coverage. For instance, liability insurance policies do not provide coverage for injuries or property damage caused by altering structures, new building construction, or demolition. If an individual wants coverage for these kinds of risks, they need a construction insurance policy. However, this type of coverage has its own restrictions as well.

One policyholder is learning this the hard way. He purchased a foreclosed home with the intent to perform extensive renovations. During a routine roof replacement, a piece of plywood injured a construction crew member. The crew member sued and the policyholder sought defense from his insurer. The policy included an exclusion for injuries caused by demolition. The insurer argued that because the policy does not provide coverage for injuries caused by demolition, the crew member’s original claim was null.

However, the definition of demolition cast doubt on this argument. The insurer argued that tearing down the roof to the original decking amounted to a demolition job. The court, however, maintained that roof removals do not constitute demolition. The fact that the home was under renovation and that the crew was repairing the roof shows the intent was not to demolish the structure. Furthermore, previous court cases define demolition as a complete tear down or destruction of a building. Because this was a renovation, the demolition injury exclusion did not apply.

The court also explained it fell on the insurer to show the exclusion met three requirements:

  • That the policy detailed the exclusion in distinct and unambiguous language
  • That the exclusion did not require additional interpretation
  • That the exclusion was applicable to the case at hand

The court maintained the insurer did not meet this burden. This particular case illuminates the intricacies of construction insurance policies. To learn more about the different types of construction insurance, contact us.

Increasing Safety Awareness in the Construction Industry

Encouraging and enforcing safety standards on construction sites is vital to maintaining a safe and effective team. However, safety programs for the sake of safety programs doesn’t do anyone any favors. If employees don’t feel compelled to make changes for the sake of their safety, supervisors need to find ways to get them motivated.

Start with Management

Employees won’t take safety initiatives seriously if their managers and supervisors don’t. For example, if workers overhear their boss griping about the cost of safety training, they may infer this as the boss doesn’t care about safety. Another element of leading by example is responding to employee concerns as soon as possible. If a construction worker reports a safety hazard, but management takes weeks to address it, it sends a message that the business’ leadership doesn’t care about their employees’ safety. When management makes employee health and safety a priority, employees are more likely to do so as well.

Reward Good Behavior

Many supervisors take a penalty-based approach to safety, but this can backfire. When employees are afraid of accruing penalties, they are more likely to hide concerning situations like near falls. While management needs to know about unsafe behavior or workplace hazards, they should focus more on correcting unwanted behavior and rewarding safe behavior. For example, supervisors can provide an incentive or reward for employees who always wear their personal protective equipment (PPE), participate in safety meetings, make safety suggestions/identify safety issues, etc.

What Not to Do

In their zeal to foster a culture of safety, some site supervisors end up making decisions that hurt safety initiatives. These include:

  • Disciplinary action. As mentioned above, focusing on penalizing unwanted behaviors isn’t an effective safety approach. Part of the issue is it requires near-constant supervision of the site, which is unrealistic. The other half of the problem is it provokes hostility from workers, especially if they feel like management is targeting them. Supervisors can’t overlook unsafe behavior, but their approach to correcting it should be safety-centric rather than disciplinary.
  • Poorly focused incentives. Reward systems and incentives can produce great results if supervisors put the focus on the right safety elements. For example, focusing on reducing the overall number of accidents is a good goal, but a poor incentive. Workers may stop reporting incidents for fear of losing a bonus. Safety incentive should focus more on behavior such as accruing points for wearing reflective clothing, safety glasses, etc.
  • Safety signs and posters. Putting up posters professing a passion for safety is only effective if management lives up to and promotes it on a personal level. In other words, if management’s only approach to safety is to put up posters, safety signage will swiftly become a joke.

Job site safety is critical to a successful construction company. If unsafe worker behaviors or injuries plague your construction sites, The Reilly Group can help. We can help you identify risks and enhance the safety of your business. Contact us to learn more.

5 Summer Safety Risks Construction Workers Need to Know

Summertime is a great time for construction, but the summer heat creates significant risks for work crews. Once temperatures start to rise above 90 degrees, heat stress becomes a significant concern. Excess heat can cause fatigue, distraction, and loss of attention to detail. All of these factors can lead to workplace accidents, injuries, or even fatalities. The following recommendations can help construction workers stay as safe as possible during the summer months.

  1. Stay hydrated. Water is the best source of hydration for construction crews, but it’s not the most interesting for taste. While many crews opt for Gatorade or other electrolyte-heavy beverages, even adding a few slices of lemon to the water cooler can help boost water consumption to keep crews hydrated. This suggestion includes limiting caffeinated or sugary beverages, as they don’t aid hydration and caffeine acts as a diuretic.
  2. Bring on the shade. It’s not always possible to work in the shade so construction companies should consider bringing the shade to their workers. Bringing canopies or umbrellas to offer a cooler place for crews to assemble parts or take breaks can make the difference when it comes to crew safety.
  3. Eat healthier lunches. Junk food is faster to pack and easier to come by on construction sites than healthy alternatives, but they come with their own set of problems. Junk food is high in fat and calories, which requires more for the digestive system to process. In extreme heat, this can put excessive stress on the body.
  4. Make smart uniform choices. Designing a company logo doesn’t seem like a safety concern, but it can be. Construction companies should opt for lighter color schemes so workers clothes can reflect the light. When choosing uniform materials, opting for cotton can help clothing breathe better as well. Some companies even specialize in sweat-wicking fabrics to help keep workers cool and dry.
  5. Stay alert. Construction supervisors should ensure their crew knows the signs of heat exhaustion. Keeping an eye on one and other can help workers keep each other safe. If a worker notices someone dropping tools, slurring their speech, stumbling, or appearing disoriented, that individual should report it right away.

Keeping workers safe from the effects of extreme temperatures is vital for the welfare of employees and the success of the company. To learn more about construction safety, contact the experts at The Reilly Company.

4 Surprising Challenges that Impede Construction Safety

Many construction dangers are obvious, such as large machines. However, several hidden perils cause injuries on a daily basis. Construction companies need to keep their construction workers safe, which often requires them to do more than enforce the minimum safety standards. The following are lesser-known construction safety challenges that construction companies need to address to limit injuries.

Shifting Weather Patterns

Construction workers prepare for expected weather hazards. For example, if there was a recent snowfall, they will likely clear the snow to expose hidden risks and take more care when navigating fall hazards like scaffolding. However, it’s a sudden change in weather that causes the most slips, trips, and falls. When a construction worker starts the workday with nice weather, he or she will take mental notes of surrounding perils. However, if the weather takes a sudden turn, constructions workers don’t always make the mental adjustment required. Their minds may remain in fair weather mode while their surroundings evolve and the hazards take new shapes and forms.

Skewed Opinion of Hazards

Bulky or noisy threats on construction sites rarely cause accidents for the simple fact that they are easy to see and hear. Construction crews are safest when they are aware of perils on the construction site. However, over time, experienced workers become complacent regarding smaller threats. These workers stop thinking about those risks because they are not obvious, which is when they become most susceptible to them.

Limited Time for Proper Safety Training

High turnover rates are common to the construction industry. Jobs are often short-term contracts and workers are always on the alert for future job opportunities. Unfortunately, this results in insufficient time to hold safety training beyond the bare minimum set by OSHA. The challenge here is construction companies have to do more than the minimum to ensure safety. This requires figuring out how to provide OSHA’s standard training as well as human error prevention training in a small window of time. Businesses that make safety training a priority will reap the most benefits in the forms of a safe and secure site and uninjured workers.

Disengaged Construction Crews

Construction workers have lives outside of their jobs. Family commitments such as attending their children’s sports games, weekend family trips, and more can weigh on worker’s minds. When construction crews focus on getting to after-work events on time, they may rush through their work. While the urge to finish the workday early is understandable, it can cause significant injuries on construction sites.

Construction sites are inherently dangerous, but construction companies don’t have to accept injuries as par for the course. The Reilly Company can help your construction business assess its risks and develop a plan for improving worker safety and reducing construction site hazards. Contact us to learn more.

How to Handle Major and Minor Construction Accidents

Despite best efforts, accidents do happen on construction sites. However, when people think of construction accidents, their minds focus on the worst-case scenarios. The truth is accidents come in various forms and intensity. From minor cuts to fractured bones, proper treatment is vital to a positive outcome.

Managing Minor Injuries

Blisters, scratches, and splinters are all common, minor injuries construction workers can experience on job sites, and they deserve attention just as much as broken bones. While it is easy to overlook smaller injuries, they can fester and land workers in the hospital. Open wounds can become infected and infection can lead to sepsis.

Basic first aid can keep construction workers healthy, which includes not ignoring any injury. Ignoring head and stomach injuries, in particular, can be fatal. Workers may feel fine a few minutes after a blow to the head or stomach. However, these types of injuries can cause unseen bleeds that may prove fatal later. In the event of these types of injuries, it is best to have a doctor look over the injured worker.

Managing Major Injuries

Major injuries are usually obvious, such as heavy bleeding and broken bones. However, even if the person looks okay on the outside, if workers suspect a significant injury occurred, they should not try to move that individual. It is human nature to want to help someone in pain. Nevertheless, moving or helping an injured person to their feet can make the injury worse. However, workers can attend to bleeding wounds. Applying pressure with a clean cloth or handkerchief can help stem the flow of blood.

In the event of significant injuries, call and wait for medical professionals to arrive to handle moving the injured person. In fact, there are often people trained in first aid nearby. If no list of qualified personnel exists, ask if any fellow coworkers have first aid training. Even the simplest of first aid measures, provided by a qualified individual, can help reduce the severity of an injury.

Accident prevention and emergency preparedness are both vital to keeping construction sites safe. The Reilly Company understands the risks facing construction companies and their staff. With our expertise, we can help keep your construction workers safe. To learn more about construction safety, contact us today.

Are Your Construction Workers Prepared for an Emergency?

Most individuals perform their morning routines without much thought. They do not have to wake up and remind themselves to brush their teeth, brew their coffee, and grab their lunch out of the refrigerator. They have ingrained these habits to the point where they become automatic. The same is true for construction workers on job sites. For example, they are likely to take the same route from their tools to where they are working. They likely do so because it is the most efficient way to do their job. Unfortunately, it may not be the most expedient path to evacuate during an emergency.

This is why site supervisors need to train construction staff on what to do and how to respond during an emergency. This is especially true for construction sites that shift layouts often to work on new phases of a project. The following are several elements to include in emergency response plans.

  1. Ensure all workers know the site layout. This includes all buildings as well as the location of emergency equipment and emergency exits. Site supervisors should make sure to post maps detailing this information in several locations throughout the job site. These maps should include highlighted routes to the nearest exit as well.
  2. Make sure workers know where to find emergency phone numbers. The roster should include phone numbers for the police, the fire department, medical emergency personnel, OSHA, insurance providers, the Coast Guard, and so on.
  3. Assign duties to specific workers in the event of an emergency. For example, certain workers should be responsible for phoning the correct emergency services to reduce chaos and prevent unnecessary injuries.
  4. Practice, practice, practice. No emergency procedure will go off without a hitch if the workers never practice it. Site supervisors should hold drills to practice what to do in the event of an emergency. They should also hold frequent safety briefings to review emergency procedures.

Accidents and emergencies happen despite the most careful planning. Even so, construction companies cannot afford to neglect emergency preparation. Doing so can result in pandemonium and excessive injuries. It can also cause insurance costs and workers’ compensation expenses to spiral out of control. To learn more about improving safety on construction sites, contact the experts at The Reilly Company.

Critical Steps in Preventing Construction Fires

Construction sites present many hazards, but, with an ounce of care and prevention, workers can avoid most major accidents. Fires are one such example. Electrical and welding work, as well as loose debris, represent fire hazards on construction sites, and being prepared to manage them is an absolute must. Understanding the different types of fires and combating them is vital to construction site safety. However, avoiding a fire is preferable to dousing one.

Three Elements to Make a Fire

A fire cannot burn without three components: heat, fuel, and air. Welding equipment, cigarette butts, frayed wires, and more all provide a source of heat to ignite a fire. Fuel can come in many forms as well (i.e. liquids, gas, or solids). The most common are gasoline or propane, but scraps of paper or wood can act as a fuel source as well. The third component, air, is almost always present, and there is not much construction workers can do about it. However, there are several steps workers and supervisors can take to eliminate bringing all three elements together.

Preventing Fires

By removing one of the three elements, a fire cannot exist. Since workers cannot do much about air, they must focus their efforts on heat and fuel sources.

  1. Keep work areas clean. Eliminating debris eliminates a potential fuel source
  2. Obey all no smoking signs
  3. Store oil-soaked cloths in metal containers with lids
  4. Take pains to keep all flammable materials away from heat sources such as heaters
  5. Report all non-controllable fire risks such as exposed electrical wires

Construction site supervisors should discuss fire safety with their workers as well as provide the appropriate training on all fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers. While the goal should be to eliminate hazards, it is not always possible to remove all sources of risk on a construction site. The Reilly Group can help your construction business identify areas of exposure and develop a plan to mitigate them. To learn more about construction safety, contact us today.

5 Easy Strategies to Prevent Construction Accidents

More often than not, accidents are preventable. By following simple safety protocols, construction workers and supervisors can avoid most accidents before they occur. The following are several tips constructions workers can use to improve job site safety.

  1. Practice good personal safety. Constructions workers should implement accident prevention into their everyday routine. For example, they should ensure their tools and equipment are clean and in good condition before using them. They should also put on any necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) before starting construction work. Clothing matters as well. Anyone entering a construction site should wear the proper shoes (i.e. NO flip-flops) and avoid flowy or baggy clothes that a machine can snag.
  2. Follow instructions. Many individuals have the propensity to take shortcuts when they are familiar with a job. However, such behavior is a slippery slope toward bypassing instructions on all jobs to save time. No time saved is worth an injury.
  3. Do not horse around. There is a reason adults are constantly telling kids to stop being rowdy—they do not want them to get hurt. The same is true for adults. Trying to prank a coworker may seem funny, but it can have lethal consequences on a construction site if something goes wrong.
  4. Report risky behavior or conditions right away. Accident prevention is the responsibility of the individual and their coworkers. Taking personal safety precautions can protect one person; reporting hazardous working conditions or behaviors can protect several people. Individuals can achieve this with a simple friendly warning to the individual making unsafe choices, or that person can report it to someone with greater authority.
  5. Keep work areas clean. While trash and debris around the job site are eyesores, they are also hazards. Junk laying around can cause people to trip and fall. It can also act as an accelerant for fires. Keeping work areas tidy is not just good manners; it is good safety as well.

Accident prevention starts on a personal level, but there are several large-scale methods to reducing risk as well. The Reilly Company can help your construction business identify risks and develop a plan to address them. To learn more about how we can help you protect your investment, contact us today.

Reducing Construction Risk with Personal Protective Equipment

Construction sites come with numerous risks that can cause lasting or permanent injuries. Personal protective equipment (PPE) can help avoid this, but it only works if construction workers wear it. Some of the top pieces of PPE are hard hats, fall protection, and eye protection. Without wearing PPE, construction workers may find themselves out of a job and employers may find themselves drowning in worker’s compensation claims. Below are some examples that illustrate why PPE is so vital.

Hard Hats

Blows to the head are not uncommon on construction sites. While workers should take precautions to minimize the frequency, accidents can happen. For example, welding metal plates require heavy-duty equipment and extreme pressure. If a temporary weld fails, the plates can go flying. If the plate strikes a worker in the head while not wearing a hard hat, he or she may suffer from brain damage or worse. Injuries can still occur while wearing hard hats, but this piece of PPE offers a significant degree of protection.

Fall Protection

Construction companies work hard to reduce the risk of fall hazards, but PPE provides backup should a fall occur. For instance, if scaffolding fails, safety harnesses can prevent workers from plummeting to the ground. If a worker falls six feet before his or her harness stops him, he or she is likely to walk away from the incident unharmed. However, if that worker neglected to wear his or her harness and fell upwards of 50 feet, that individual would have serious and potentially life-threatening injuries.

Eye Protection

There are several common sources of eye injuries on construction sites. These include:

  • UFOs: While many associate unidentified flying objects with science fiction, UFOs on construction sites are most often dust and microscopic particles wafting in the air. If a worker notices dusty conditions, he or she should don eye protection.
  • Invisible threats: Welding arcs and laser beams can cause lasting eye injuries. Workers should take pains not to look directly at these ocular risks and wear the appropriate eye protection while working with them.
  • Fast moving objects: Construction works use tools and equipment that cause flying debris. Chipping, sawing, and several other tasks can cause particles to fly at astonishing speeds. Depending on the task, individuals may need protection for their entire face.
  • Liquids: Construction workers use several substances that are caustic to the eyes on a day-to-day basis (i.e. tar, paint, cleaning products for equipment). Investing in the appropriate eye protection can save a worker’s sight should the liquid splash up into his or her face.

Wearing eye protection may be uncomfortable, but wearing a glass eye is much likely more so. This is the risk construction workers run when not wearing eye protection. Depending on the job, workers may need goggles, safety glasses, or a full-face shield. Construction workers should take the time to select the appropriate eye protection that suits theira task.

Construction companies should take pains to ensure their workers are wearing the proper PPE for the jobs they are performing. Failure to do so can result in a reduced work force, safety citations, and worker’s compensation claims. The Reilly Company can help construction companies reduce their risk through proper safety planning and insurance policies. To learn more, contact us today.

Construction Risk: Fire Safety and Threat Assessment

Fires can happen anywhere, and construction sites are no exception. Welding, electrical work, and several other common construction tasks create the perfect environment for an accidental fire. While having fire extinguishers placed in strategic locations around the construction site is a good idea, it is not a comprehensive solution. Different classes of fires need the right type of extinguisher. The most common kinds of fires on construction sites are Class A, B, and C.

Class A Fires

Class A fires have multiple sources. Wood, paper, trash, or any other material that results in glowing embers can all start Class A fires. The best extinguisher to put out this type of blaze is a Class A or Class ABC extinguisher. Class A extinguishers utilize water so construction workers should only use them on Class A fires. For example, using Class A extinguishers on a gasoline-based fire can spread the flames while using it on an electrical fire can result in electrocution. Class ABC extinguishers contain a pressurized, dry, powdered chemical that construction workers can use on Class A, B, or C fires. This versatile extinguisher is preferable over distinct classes because there will be no confusion during the commotion of a fire.

Class B Fires

This class of fire is the result of flammable liquids and gasses. Some examples include gasoline, grease, paint thinners, etc. To put out this type of flame safely, construction workers can use a Class B or Class ABC extinguisher.

Class C Fires

Energized electrical equipment cause these kinds of fires. Construction workers should use a Class BC or Class ABC extinguisher to snuff out this kind of fire.

Additional Important Fire Extinguisher Safety Tips

Knowing what kind of extinguisher goes with which class of fire is only the first step to proper fire safety. There are several more points beyond syncing extinguishers to fires; these include:

  • Knowing the locations of all extinguishers and how to use them
  • Clearing the immediate area around extinguishers of debris and obstructions for ease of access
  • Inspecting, maintaining, and caring for extinguishers

Lastly, construction workers should only use fire extinguishers for putting out fires. Horseplay can result in injuries and is a waste of a valuable fire safety tool. Supervisors should discuss the importance of fire safety and provide proper training for all construction workers to ensure a safe working environment. To learn more about construction safety, contact the experts at The Reilly Group.